The Oakland Post

OU students celebrate Diwali

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OU students celebrate Diwali

Samuel Summers

Samuel Summers

Samuel Summers

Kaley Barnhill, Staff Reporter

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Diwali, the celebration of lights, was celebrated at Oakland University Monday, Nov. 19 in The Habitat in the Oakland Center.

“I am super excited for this event, and for all the performances,” Flavio Di Stefano, diversity director for the Student Program Board (SPB) said of the event via email. “I’m looking forward to having some good food and the famous ‘mango lassi’ that many people requested to bring back!”

According to Di Stefano, the goal of diversity events is to make students feel welcomed and represented by breaking down stereotypes.

“Large-scale diversity events help raise awareness within the university community by exposing the student body to different cultural traditions,” Di Stefano said via email.

SPB partners with the Indian Students Association of OU to make the event as authentic and welcoming as possible. Abhaysinghamars Rathwa, president of the Indian Students Association of OU, said for him Diwali is a celebration where he gets a chance to spend time with his family and friends.

“It has more cultural value to me compared to the traditional religious values,” Rawtha said via email.  “It’s always a happy festive vibe during the Diwali season when you find colorful decorations, festive cuisine and a lot of shopping and gifting is done by people all around India. The thing I like most about Diwali is that it is celebrated by everyone, no matter what their religion or social status is.”

Rathwa is originally from a town called Vadadora in the Indian state of Gujurat. He came to the United States in 2013 to pursue his B.A. in music.

“To be honest, celebrating Diwali here at OU away from my hometown in India is a completely different scenario,” Rawtha said via email. “I don’t have any family here and the whole town is not celebrating like we do it in India. But, I am lucky to have some get togethers with some close friends and celebrate Diwali. Also, being the president of Indian Students Association at OU I enjoy hosting and planning our Yearly Diwali event where all my fellow international students from India and the OU family come together and have a joyful Diwali celebration. It always makes me feel a little bit close to home.”

Rathwa explained that for him, Diwali has more cultural value to me compared to the traditional religious values.

“Its always a happy festive vibe during the Diwali season when you find colorful decorations, festive cuisine and a lot of shopping and gifting is done by people all around India,” Rawtha said via email. “The thing I like most about Diwali is that it is celebrated by everyone, not matter what their religion or social status is.”

As his family still lives in India, Rawtha enjoys reflecting on his most profound Diwali memories from when he celebrated with them. 

“I have a bunch of favorite Diwali memories but if I had to pick one, then that would be when every Diwali my family and I do the Diwali Puja (prayer) and jokingly argue about the superstitious beliefs of the festival,” Rawtha said via email. “The whole Puja ceremony becomes a leg pulling (respectfully) game amongst the family members.”

Now that they live apart, Rathwa says that him and his family exchange greetings over a video call, as well as send gifts to each other.

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